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Anxiety around New Girlfriend
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Colton4512 posted:
Okay, so I've been diagnosed with GAD and panic attacks. I've had panic attacks since I was a child and they have gotten less frequent, but more tumultuous over the years. I am now 19, male, and have had about 2 big panic attacks in the past 3 years, but each one has had lasting effects for nearly a year apiece due to my GAD and the fear that they would return (though relaxation and other techniques made it easier to cope with these lasting fears). During both of these times, I was dating a girl. We dated for 3 years before she broke up with me because of my anxiety and for another guy. During those 3 years she left me several times and within a week she had been talking with a new guy each time. One of these times she had kissed my best friend. Another time, she had starting talking to a friend of mine that literally worked shoulder to shoulder with me at my job. I got her back from him and he quit his job due to me being quite an a**h*** to him, though I'm not proud of it. (I added these occurrences just in case they could be a component of my problem). Anyways, I had a panic attack once when she was over (we had been watching Hannibal and I had my first-ever obtrusive compulsive thought about hurting her, because the movie had steered my thoughts that fearful direction). I didn't tell her this though, I just told her I was having a panic attack, but she reacted poorly and started crying and didn't know what to do, I guess I can't blame her for being ignorant of how to deal with such a thing though. She kept asking what was wrong with me, in a caring way, but it still augmented the anxiety with even more fears. From that day forth, every time I saw her or even thought about her I would get very anxious. Eventually I started to push her away and felt like I didn't have feelings for her anymore because all I felt was anxiety when I thought of her. Eventually she couldn't take it anymore because I wouldn't stay the night with her because I was afraid of having another panic attack and she broke up with me, and immediately started hanging out with a guy that she said she was just friends with while we were dating but is dating him now. We've been broken up now for about 7 months and she's had sex with that guy, who I also worked with, which forced me to quit my job due to the obsessive painful thoughts of them together in bed that still haunt me everyday. In order to try and get over her I tried to start a relationship with a new girl. I've found, after 3 months together, that this girl is so so so much better than my ex. She has a great sense of humor, she is really caring, beautiful, and I can be myself around her, something I was always unable to do with my ex. Well, last night we were watching tv in my basement and she was talking to me, but I was focused on the show. I realized that I should be listening to her, because of this I felt a little guilty, and then all of a sudden a wave of fear came over me. I feared that I would reproduce that night with my ex. I feared that my anxiety would push me away from my new girlfriend like it did with my ex. I tried all of the techniques I know, I breathed slowly and deeply, I tried to allow the anxiety to take its toll and realize that it's nothing but feelings, and took a capsule of valarian root, and thankfully I didn't have a full panic attack, though the anxiety was nearly as great as one. I don't know if my anxiety manifested itself because of a fear of losing her because of my anxiety, or if I was embarrassed to have her see that side of me and tried avoiding it therefore exacerbated it, or if I have trust issues, or if it was just a normal anxiety attack and has no hidden meaning, etc. All I know is that today I feel a little anxious when I think about seeing her again or texting her, which is making me afraid that it's the situation with my ex all over again!
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Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
It sounds like you have found a very understanding girl and you might consider telling her about your anxiety because, sooner or later, it may come up. I don't think this necessarily is going to be a repeat of your last experience because, as you said, she's quite different and you feel very comfortable around her.

Since your anxiety and these panic attacks have proven to be so problematic in your life, I'm wondering if you have had any type of therapy to help you with this. If not, I think it is something that you should give some serious thought to especially since you indicate you quit a job because of something that happened between a co-worker and your ex-girlfriend.


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